A brief history of “the greatest invention of all time.”
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I consider myself somewhat of an expert on pleasure.
I have always been a sensual and sexual person, enjoying and indulging in the flesh without guilt, shame or needless analysis. After all, what’s to think about? If it feels good, do it.
In my late 20s, and on a whim, I purchased my first vibrator. I really hadn’t given them much thought in my life: I had sex when I wanted, how I wanted and with whomever I wanted. There was rarely a need for self-gratification and when the need arose, I did it the old fashioned way (well, mostly).
I did not leave my house for three days.
Orgasm was reached in seconds on the first several uses. In all, and I confess this honestly: I came about 78 times in a span of 48 hours. But by day three, exhaustion and numbing began to interfere with my mission. Day three yielded a mere 15 mind-bending, face-twitching, leg-cramping orgasms.
And so began my relationship with vibrators.
Yet despite the unparalleled success the vibrator has in helping women achieve the elusive Big O, there unfortunately remain millions of beautiful, educated, interesting and sexually stagnant women in North America alone. Factors such as shame, religious beliefs, sexual and/or physical abuse, ethnicity and acceptable codes of behavior often scare the curious woman away from investing in a vibrator. So many women believe we are undeserving of pleasure, love, happiness or contentment. We often discount any thoughts of pleasing ourselves (sexually or otherwise) and instead mask our misery by moving through life as unrealized, sexually dissatisfied, sensually retarded women.
Perhaps we use the single-working-mother mask, citing exhaustion from work and raising a child/children alone as an excuse to bypass the topic of self gratification.
THE VIBRATOR WAS ELECTRIFIED A DECADE BEFORE THE ELECTRIC IRON AND THE VACUUM CLEANER!
Or maybe we don the housewife mask– using housework, dinner preparation, child-rearing and three minutes of missionary with the husband.
Maybe we prefer the ambitious-career-gal persona. Heaven knows we don’t have time to please ourselves if we’re busy climbing the corporate ladder. But pleasing others distracts us from our own need for pleasure. In most instances, it is also a way of validating, excusing and/or ignoring our own discontent.
Perhaps a little history of the greatest invention of all time will cure your guilt (or at minimum, pique your interest).
The (electric) vibrator was invented by Kelsey Stinner in the 1880s to treat what was then referred to by doctors as “congestion of the genitalia” and “female hysteria.” Since pre-Victorian times, doctors had been “treating” women for these “illnesses” by massaging their vaginal area. The desired result by the physician in performing this “treatment” was to attain “hysterical paroxysm,” which translates today as “orgasm.” After several years of treating women with “vulvar stimulation” (which they professed was not the least bit sexual) they also confessed to finding it both time-consuming and hard on the hands.
The electrically powered vibrator was patented by Hamilton Beach in 1902. It soon became a best-selling item in catalogs such as Sears Roebuck and was advertised in magazines such as Women’s Day and Needlecraft. “Vibration therapy” was a popular attraction at many American and European resorts.
Imagine, this device was of the first domestic appliances to be electrified (after the sewing machine, toaster, kettle and fan). The vibrator was electrified a decade before the electric iron and the bloody vacuum cleaner!
And yet despite its history of previous acceptance– even reverence– its present place in society has deemed it a sexual faux-pas and perversion. As society has become more uptight, it has attached a stigma to the use of a vibrator. No longer socially acceptable to be purchased in a department store, it has been relegated to the shelves of sex shops– places some women aren’t exactly keen on frequenting.
By degrading its value to women, society has also managed to degrade the women who use them.
If I can say one thing to any woman who has contemplated a vibrator it would be this: The few minutes of discomfort it takes to purchase a toy is outweighed by the years of pleasure you’ll receive from owning one.
And may I recommend the Rabbit.